Visit a Vermont County Fair

Summer is winding down in the Northeast Kingdom, which means it’s fair season. County fairs, state fairs, local fairs, there’s one in every size and every corner of the Kingdom, and there’s no better way to spend a sunny Saturday than wandering with the crowds at the fair of your choice. Check out the agricultural barns, and the 4-H displays! Llamas and alpacas are on display by the cow barns. Explore the midway rides and games – are you up for a ride on the Twister?! Maybe you can win one of those fuzzy stuffed toys at the ball throw!

Save time to check out the food stalls – rural Vermont fairs feature traditional fare like fried dough and corndogs, cotton candy and candy apples, as well as culinary delights such as the deep fried pickle! The real culinary treasures at these fairs can be found at the local food stands – the Caledonia County Fair offered homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream to die for on a hot Saturday afternoon, and a nearby stand featured full turkey dinners, a perennial favorite of the carneys who work the midway.

 The  CCF, as it’s fondly called, is held in Lyndonville every August,  and offers a look at a simpler time in America. Saturday’s Grand Cavalcade featured little girls with spring calves on halters, shyly waving to the grandstand crowd, followed by their older sisters with yearling heifers, and their fathers with medal-winning milk cows. Many of these families have been entering their cattle in the fair for generations; keeping the farming tradition alive and well in Vermont.

County fair attractions, like the canned vegetable competition, bring a rush of nostalgia to some visitors, while others find it difficult to holster their cellphones long enough to check out the pickles that won the blue ribbon. Those fairgoers are more apt to be entranced by the trapeze artists or the white tigers that perform three times a day in the center ring. Or maybe it’s the demolition derby, traditionally held on Saturday night, when a boisterous crowd enjoys seeing local drivers reduce their specially rigged cars to infield rubble. There’s something for everyone at the fair!

So the mention of fried dough has you looking for a fair to attend this weekend? Here is a list of fairs in Vermont that are still to be held:

Champlain Valley Exposition         Essex Junction                       Aug 28-Sept 6

Location: Champlain Valley Exposition, Rt. 15, Essex Junction

Open from 10 am to midnight daily, this is Vermont’s largest fair, and has been going strong since 1923. Agricultural exhibits, horse, sheep and dairy shows, racing pigs, fine arts halls and a 50-ton sand sculpture await. Midway games and rides, and traditional fair food.  Find directions and more information at www.cvfair.com.

Vermont State Fair                        Rutland                                Sept 3-12

Location: Rt. 7, Rutland, Vermont

Pony and ox pulling contests, sheep and goat shows, lots of horses, fish & game, pet & poultry building. Maple sugar house, dairy and forestry exhibits. Racing pigs and a petting zoo, a magician and Galaxy Girl. Over 35 rides on the midway, and don’t forget that food! This year, Wynona Judd, Rick Springfield and Charlie Pride are among the featured artists. For operating hours and directions, go to www.vermontstatefair.net.

Guilford Fair                      Guilford, Vermont                          Sept 5-6

Location: Guilford Fairgrounds, Weatherhead Hollow, Guilford

This is a small, traditional fair with agricultural and garden exhibits, handicraft exposition, chainsaw and sheep shearing demonstrations, games, food and midway rides. Visit www.guilfordfairvt.com  for details.

Tunbridge World’s Fair                 Tunbridge                             Sept. 1

Location:             Tunbridge, Vermont

The Tunbridge World’s Fair has run continuously since 1867,  it’s in its 139th year.

This is the quintessential Vermont fair, featuring working antique displays (tractors, etc.), horse and oxen pulls, cattle shows, rare breeds, sheep dog trials, gymkhana and contra dancing. Midway, games and fair food beyond compare. A schedule of events can be found at www.tunbridgefair.com.

See ya at the fair!